Thursday, June 30, 2011

It's the last day of June...

...and Westley's outfit is completely weather-appropriate.


Dude Descending a "Staircase"

Little Dude

Two hours later, we went get out of the rain.


Monday, June 27, 2011



Lately it seems like every time I really look at Westley he's taller and more, well, boyly. It's especially noticeable when he's asleep; he has mastered the art of The Sprawl, which makes his limbs appear three times longer and boyly-er. A couple hours after tucking Westley in and saying good-night, I go into his room to check on him, and Whoa! Who is this teenager sleeping in my preschool kid's bed?


Unfortunately, the super-fast growing up doesn't stop at his sleeping posture. Westley has also started sporting an attitude to match his tiny-teenaged appearance. When I asked to give him a hug before he and Grandad took off for an adventure, Westley heaved the biggest sigh I've ever heard come out of a little body and rolled his eyes. He didn't quite say, "Gawd, Mom," but it was there, between the lines of his down-turned mouth.


Westley now gets cross with me for trying to help him, for enforcing even the tiniest of rules, and for no particular reason. Also, whatever you do, do not suggest that after drinking two giant glasses of tea, he might, just might need to pee. And if you insist that going on a car trip is contingent on a pre-car bathroom trip, be prepared for a few emphatic humphs, followed by The Silent Treatment.

"Three-and-a-half going on thirteen," I said to Rob, after Westley had sneered at me and stormed out of the room.

"Threenager," Rob corrected, and Westley's new nickname was born.


I don't know what people were talking about with the "terrible twos." Westley must not have gotten that memo. The twos, as I remember them, were actually quite lovely. They were certainly a picnic compared to the threes, which have been...not terrible exactly, but definitely filled with all kinds of surprising and interesting challenges. (Although, to be fair to Westley and his budding 'tude, this year has been quite an "interesting" for all of us so far.)

But offsetting Westley's sudden grumpiness, stubbornness, and occasional disgust at my mere presence are random moments of complete sweetness. Yesterday as I sat, chin in hands, feeling especially ill and hormonal, Westley asked, "What can I do to help?" This morning, I was showered with hugs right in the middle of grocery-shopping. And after good-night kisses, Westley has started telling me to "sleep a good sleep, Mommy! No scary dreams!"

Threenager, teenager, whatever: he'll never stop being my sweet little guy.



Thursday, June 23, 2011



The doctor described the material in my uterus as having been there for "a very long time." Rob got the sense from talking to him that the doc didn't have a stock answer for this situation. He'd had to "chip away" at the lining of my uterus. (Have the screaming heebie-jeebies now? You're welcome.)

The doctor also mentioned that once everything that needed to come out was out, "the uterus looked very normal. So you may not have a bicornuate uterus."


He'll have more information for me at my follow-up appointment in two months. Did he really say two months? I was still waking up from anesthesia, but Rob swears he also heard the doc say "months." Doesn't this ladyparts doctor know that in uterine time, two months is for-fucking-ever!?

Anyway, as much as I want to get wrapped up in solving this mystery of my insides (I mean, just how long is a-very-in-italics long time? A Westley-long-time ago? What was that thing, really?) that road leads to Crazygirltown.

I think I'm done rubbernecking at my own body for a while.


9 Things We Did While Waiting

It turns out that when the nurse who did my intake interview over the phone told me to "stay hydrated," she did not mean "drink lots of water." When I showed up to check-in for my D&C, water bottle in hand, the staff looked at me like I had a half-full syringe of some illegal substance sticking out of my eyeball.

"Have you been drinking water?"

I shrank into my fear of authority. "Um, yes, they told me to stay hydrated—"

"I don't know who told you that. They usually want your stomach to be empty for the procedure. We'll check with the anesthesiologist."

The anesthesiologist talked to me like I was five, and my "this is what they told me over the phone" story was, to her ears, the hospital patient equivalent of "the dog ate my homework."

And just like that, my hour-long wait turned into a four-hour wait.

Fortunately, Rob was with me, and between us, we found some ways to pass the time.
  1. We complained about the awfulness of the situation.
  2. In attempt to change the mood a little, sang "Just Dance." Rob provided excellent back-up.
  3. I stripped off the weird paper hospital blanket and awful sticky-washcloth socks, and put back on my own underwear and jeans. Together, we ventured down the corridor to the restroom, IV bag in hand.
  4. I "read" Italian Vogue. Rob read "Penny Arcade" via iPad.
  5. Rob ate the peanut butter sandwich he'd brought, while I listed all the foods I was fantasizing about.
  6. We moved the two folding chairs around so that I didn't have to wait in the hospital bed, and we could sit next to each other.
  7. Rob suggested watching something on Netflix. We settled on 30 Rock, as we are the only people left who haven't seen it.
  8. Rob rubbed my feet and popped my toes, a trick he originally discovered on our honeymoon six years ago.
  9. We compared my chilly IV arm with my non-IV arm, and discovered that the IV arm seemed coldest when we kissed it. Naturally this lead to a conversation about dating vampires.
My D&C had originally been scheduled for 12:30 PM. The (different! much kinder!) anesthesiologist came and got me around 4:00 PM. I wish he'd told me when he put the drug in my IV, because I was asleep before I even knew I should be feeling sleepy.

If there is any silver lining to the black cloud of suck that has been raining over the last three months, it's that I have a partner to stand with under my umbrella (ella ella, eh eh eh).
Thanks for being my unflappable support person, baby.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Thoughts Before Going Under

Tomorrow I take my first trip to the operating room in 28 years. My uterus will be scraped clean of its lining and golf-ball sized growth of placental tissue. This will (most likely) happen while I'm unconscious.

I am not excited about the "unconscious" part. I'm not excited about any of it, really, as needing this D&C feels like having to work through March's miscarriage yet again, almost exactly three months after the fact. My mind keeps shouting, I'm supposed to be healed up now, not re-starting recovery! (I'm supposed to be pregnant now!) But it's the likelihood of general anesthesia that's really making me run panicked circles around the inside of my mind.

When my doctor told me that he prefers to do the procedure with patients under general anesthesia, I almost said, Of course you do. Working with people's insides is way easier when they're unconscious! But there's a psychological and, dare I say, spiritual component to all of this as well. Namely, I'm going to be present for the procedure, whether or not I'm awake.

Even if I don't remember the D&C, my body will know what happened. (Bodies always know.) And, of course, right now, my mind knows that when they scoop out my uterine contents, they're going in through my vagina. Let me say this another way: tomorrow, some people I don't know are going to put me to sleep and do things to me through my vagina.

This is why they tell you not to leave your drink unattended at a college party—so someone doesn't drug you to sleep and do things to you through your vagina!

Now, I would much rather the doctors and nurses get to my uterus that way than, say, slice through my abs. But still. I can count on one slightly mutated hand the number of people I've let inside my vagina, and I've always been conscious when they were in there. While I realize this D&C is a completely routine, probably boring thing for my doctor to be doing, it's my body's first time.

I'm tempted to ask, when I check in tomorrow, if the D&C can be done with a spinal block or epidural anesthesia instead. But neither of those things sounds like any fun, either (and the potential side-effects sound God-awful). And I have to admit that as much as I want to be awake for the procedure so I can experience it, the cost in that scenario is having to experience it.

Oh, holy hell...

* * *

I've had general anesthesia once before, when I had all four wisdom teeth removed on my 24th birthday. (Best. Party. Ever! Woo!) I had absolutely no desire to experience that procedure, as I am completely squeamish about anything medical happening in or around my mouth. Trips to the dentist are light-years ahead of gynecological exams for me in terms of discomfort and humiliation.

Fortunately, my recovery from the wisdom-teeth-removal—both the anesthesia and the actual tooth-yanking—was completely trivial. I don't think I took any of the mega-strength pain meds they prescribed me, and I felt more or less like myself right away.

If my pattern holds true, and dental stuff really is worse than gynecological nonsense, the D&C recovery should be a fucking cakewalk.

* * *

Rob cannot wrap his mind around why I would want to be conscious for the procedure. I tired to explain it to him in terms of "psychological fallout," but he just shrugged.

I guess I feel about it very much the way I did about Westley's birth. I wanted to give birth without drugs and with as little intervention as possible because I believed it was the best option for my baby, but also because I wanted to have the experience. Birth was a great mystery to me, and while I wasn't happy with the pain I discovered, I certainly wouldn't say I made a mistake.

The more I think about what's gone on this Spring, the more I believe this wild roller-coaster of loss and healing is also not a mistake. That there is something in this pain that is ultimately going to serve me, build my character, make me more...something.

That this crack that feels impossibly huge is going to let in impossible amounts of light.


Monday, June 20, 2011

Dad's Special Recipe


I don't know how he does it.

Westley has been a total little preschool punk this evening, and Rob is sitting with him, calmly reading one last bedtime story. He hasn't snapped or grumped or glared once. In fact, I think I've heard him lose his patience with Westley twice ever.


It's no wonder Westley is always clamoring for "Daddy-Westley Time." I'm often dis-invited from outings minutes before we go out the door because Westley wants Rob all to himself. They have special games together and toys that only the two of them play with. There is at least one song that only Rob is allowed to sing.

They don't have a secret handshake, but I'm sure that's next.


Westley still talks about things he and Daddy did together over a year ago. Nothing has the appeal of Daddy's computer, Daddy's car, Daddy's lap. Daddy possesses the arcane, mystical knowledge of superheroes and robots (and robot superheroes), and he's always up for a game involving one or more of them.

I would ask Rob what his secret is, but it might just be that he's rad. And his kid totally knows it.



Friday, June 17, 2011

Epiblogue: Mom I'd Like to...Friend

Westley and I have been to two pre-preschool summer get-togethers in two days, and, well, I don't really know how to say this so I'll just say it:

I think I might like some of these women.

So far, I am still mom-friendless (except for you lovely people on the other side of the computer, of course!). I had hoped Westley going to preschool might change that, but, to be perfectly honest, I didn't have high hopes. I may be a life-partner relationship optimist at the moment, but I still feel pretty unfriendable. I am just so completely dorky and awkward in social situations.

Fortunately, it turns out that almost no one is totally at ease when meeting the parents of their child's preschool classmates for the first time...while also trying to keep an eye on their child(ren) at the park. Even if you're good at chatting up potential mom-friends, in the back of your mind you're going, "Is he okay over there? Are they trying to kill each other with rocks?" It levels the playing field, so to speak.

"I hope this is going to work out," quickly changed to "This is totally going to work out [happy-happy joy-joy dance]!" as I chatted with laid-back mom after laid-back mom. Westley popped over to scold me several times—"Leave her alone!"—which everyone seemed to think was adorable and hilarious.

I'm already fantasizing about the coffee dates.


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Over Half Full

Over Half Full

When I met Rob, I was writing about heroines in screwball comedies (It Happened One Night, The Lady Eve, Ball of Fire) and listening to break-up music (edibleRed). The screwball comedies were for a class, and the break-up music was for no reason. Certainly not for dealing with a break-up, which I've only ever experienced in preemptive form. I was just a little pessimistic about love. I was also mildly obsessed with Collette McLafferty's voice in general, and the song "As You Do" in particular.

(This is where I would put a link, but I cannot find "As You Do" anywhere online! It includes the lyric, "'Cause no one offends me as gently as you do / Then drives me on empty as sweetly as you do." So because I can't find the song I want, I'll point you to edibleRed's fantastic cover of "Hey Ya," which has a similar sound and sentiment.)

This probably could have been interpreted as a sign. Break-up songs deal, as we all know, with relationships that are strained at best. Screwball comedies revolve around a couple who are mismatched and often completely despise each other. And while I think I can truthfully say that Rob and I have never hated each other with that special kind of 1940's romantic comedy ferocity, we did not make a good match.

I think that's precisely why our marriage is stronger today, on our sixth anniversary, than it's ever been.

<span class=
I appear to have a mustache in this picture, but whatever.

Last year at this time, we were falling "in like." Today, I am unquestionably in love. Perhaps not to the point of wanting to listen to sappy music, but I can definitely say that I'm a relationship optimist. My glass is well over half-full.

* * *

As I was scouring the Internet for edibleRed's "As You Do," I found another song by the same title. I'd never heard it before, but half a listen in, I shouting down the hall.

"Ohmygod, Rob! This is the song we have to walk down the aisle to at our renewal of vows ceremony!"

Yes, we're totally having a renewal of vows ceremony. Eventually. Because in addition to being about mismatched couples, screwball comedies are also about marriage—and remarriage. And for every break-up song, there is an equal and opposite "we're okay" song.

Just in case you're wondering what a "preemptive break-up" is, it's when a person you're not in a relationship with takes you out for Chinese food to tell you, "I like you, but—," and then hits you with some really compelling-only-to-that-person reason why you two can't be a couple. In other words, lamesauce.


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I Used to Be Funny

Photo 191

Do you remember when this blog was funny? I do—vaguely.

I don't think I've lost my sense of humor, but when I give my writing the quick, pre-Publish once-over, I keep thinking, "This shit sounds grim." Yes, things have been pretty serious 'round my ladyparts lately, but the joking hasn't stopped. It just hasn't made it as far as the blog.

Photo 187

Part of the problem is that as Rob and I start liking each other better, we generate tons narrow-audience humor. I mean really narrow-audience. As in, "You had to be there...and be Rob or Noelle."

(Is this what people mean when they say stuff like, "I'm married to my best friend"? No one else could possibly understand that a string of terrible, off-the-cuff, joke-trope spoofs had me stitches for three hours? "Yo-Yo Ma is so fat, his cello is a double bass!" Stop, you're killing me! "Yo-Yo Ma is so fat, when he plays cello around the house, he plays cello around the house!" Really...I can't breathe...)

Photo 182

Then there's Westley, for whom the epitome of hilarity is my turning him upside down and kissing him. But if anything beats making Rob laugh (he's very particular about his comedy), it's making Westley laugh, so I keep trying to expand my preschooler-targeted act. Last week, I struck comedy gold.

Photo 183

Blessedly, it happened when it really needed to, on One of Those Days. Westley and I had stopped at the library to check some books and a puppet (our library lets us check out puppets! It's the raddest), and were hanging out at PCC, eating the best of all PCC lunches: avocado-tomato sandwiches and freshly made vegan cookies. Westley and the (I'm guessing) 2-1/2-year-old boy at the next table were having a raspberry-blowing contest. I was not amused. The little boy's mother was even less amused, possibly because she had a 6-month-old baby strapped to her chest and probably hadn't slept since January.

Photo 186

I could feel this other mother glaring at me—like I was somehow supposed to be able to control my son's behavior—but after a few attempts at correcting Westley, I gave up. I let the anger marinate for a few minutes. Then I realized that the anger I was experiencing was hers, not mine. Let a stranger I would probably never see again make my hard day worse? Fuck that!

I dug in our bag for the library puppet, a white mouse with a super-long tail. Suddenly, the mouse perched on the edge of the table, and started playing air guitar: "Smoke on the Water." Mousey was about to move on to "All Along the Watchtower," but Westley, completely delighted, started humming along! Soon my kid and I were both laugh-singing like fools over our half-eaten lunch.

I didn't care about looking like That Mom. I completely forgot about the woman at the next table. I didn't care that I was singing (poorly) in public with my hand up a plush mouse's ass. I was too busy being funny.

Photo 185


Monday, June 13, 2011

Past Tense

I reject the phrase "living in the past."

There is a difference, I think, between "living in the past" and mourning the present and future that could have been if only the past had been different. While I think of myself as someone who, with a preschooler to care for, has little choice but to live in the present—or perhaps in the very near future, as in, "when Daddy gets home"—the past is definitely a source of tension for me. Paige described it perfectly in the comments to my last post as the inability to decide "if I am more sad about losing the baby or [losing] all the plans I made before and while being pregnant."

There is no dwelling on what happened. It happened, and it's (almost) over. (My D&C is scheduled for June 22, and it turns out that preparing to surgically "complete" a miscarriage is a lot like being pregnant: no alcohol, no caffeine, no painkillers, special vitamins.) The "dwelling" is in the plans, the stories, the imagined scenarios. I still have a very clear mental image of our family of four at the pumpkin patch this Fall, my vintage coat buttoned over a brand new baby in a front pack. And it stings, watching that story fade.

There's no denying that the past affects me. But isn't it a point of tension for everyone, to one degree or another? "Bad" movies are much better if we loved them in childhood. Certain foods are defined in terms of "the way Mom used to make." And who doesn't have that internal editor, making corrections to the "first draft"—"I should have said..."

So I don't eat cream of mushroom soup because I associate it with the stomach flu, and I can't shake the idea that "I Don't Want to Live on the Moon" is about dying, because that's what I believed when I was five. And I think my internal editor wields an especially large red pen. But I like to think that's an advantage, especially when it comes to the need to mourn what could have been.

Last night I was wondering what my body would look like right now if I'd gained the little bit of weight that many girls gain around age twelve and stopped. If I'd never been 70 pounds overweight, if I'd never starved, never would age and pregnancy have effected me? Would I look basically the same at 28? Better? Worse? It was curiosity, not judgment. That seems to be the key.

Curiosity, more than anything else, releases my sadness. Curiosity enables me to wander around inside of my if onlys and what ifs without collapsing there. Curiosity has no plan, no preconceived Right Answer. It just wants to know a thing.


Thursday, June 9, 2011

Falling in the (Age) Gap


Every place I've gone in the past week has been overflowing with visibly pregnant women. Nearly all of them seem to have a child Westley's age or younger. And while I want to believe there is no one right way to have a family, I cannot help but feel like I'm getting something wrong.


My stock answer when people would ask about Rob and my having another child used to be, "We want Westley to have turned three already when his sibling arrives." (Or sometimes, depending on the rudeness of the person asking, "That's something my husband and I will discuss privately.") My ideal was children spaced about 3 1/2 years apart. They would still be close enough in age to be good playmates and would get to go to school together, but Westley would be able to do a few things for himself by the time there was a baby in the house. It seemed like a lovely plan.


But I didn't get pregnant. (Stupid me, thinking that because I got pregnant with Westley right away, it would be just as easy the second time around.) And then I did, but I didn't stay pregnant.

There's the saying that goes, "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans." But I can't think of that saying—especially now—without also thinking of Bethany in the movie Dogma: "What about my plans? You know? I had planned to have a family, with my husband. Wasn't that plan good enough for God? Apparently not."


I know families come in all sizes and arrangements, with all kinds of age gaps. I know people who swear by having two children as close in age as possible, and I also know siblings spaced six years apart who are the best of friends. I'm sure that if Rob and I do have another child, there will come a point where I couldn't imagine doing it any other way. But I guess I didn't realize just how invested I was in my idea of the perfect sibling age gap until I started seeing it all over the place.


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Just the Two of Us

When I was 16, I fantasized about someday being a single parent. I had this very romantic notion of what it would be like to have a baby—and then a child, and then a teenager—on my own. I wouldn't have to compromise on rules, approaches, or aesthetics ("Compromise: that's that thing where I don't get what I want," as Rob is fond of joking), and I'd get to say I did it all myself. Oh, the adventures my Mini Me and I would have, just the two of us!


Yeah, my 16-year-old self was more than a little extreme. And she had absolutely no idea what real, day-to-day motherhood, single or otherwise, looks and feels like. Twelve years of life experience later, I can say with complete confidence that there is no way I could do this on my own.

Rob is away all this week on a business trip, and once again, I find myself wondering how on earth people parent solo. I am experiencing Single Parent Time in a big way; the days seem half-again as long while, strangely, still not comprising the hours needed to get everything done! It's vexing.

H2O <3

I wasn't at all surprised to (re)discover that husbandless days are about three hours longer than I have energy for. What has caught me off-guard is my ability to push through the tiredness—especially that magical kind of tiredness that comes from not speaking with another adult all day. (I really have to stop opting for Self Checkout at the grocery store.) Much to my surprise, I have yet to catch myself zoning out, even at the end of the day. Somehow, I'm staying more tuned in to Westley, checking in with him more often, and—this is the really strange thing—feeling much less stressed-out by the stay-at-home-motherhood gig than I have in a long time.

It's a parenting paradox: I'm feeling extra tired, more isolated, and stretched even thinner than usual...and I'm enjoying my child more than ever. We're pretty awesome, just the two of us.

(But I remain beyond thankful that my partner comes home on Friday afternoon.)


Monday, June 6, 2011


It didn't seem to matter that I'd written question marks and "N/A" and "not sure" all over the new patient form; the ultrasound technician was expecting to see a fetus.

I listed a few dates for her. She plugged them into the machine and said, "You're anywhere from six to ten weeks."

I smiled politely and said nothing. No, I'm not, I thought. I was expecting to see an empty uterus.


I knew with a strange kind of instinct what I was looking at on the monitor before anyone told me. I didn't know what exactly it was made of, but I still knew what it was.

Something missed. Something left behind. Stuck.

I was oddly relieved to see something inside me instead of nothing.

The something, it turns out, is a chunk of placental tissue, about the size of a golf ball—or perhaps a lime, since pregnancy timelines are so fond of the fruit comparison. And it really is stuck in one of the "horns" of my bicornuate uterus.

The doctor who went over the images with me was very upfront about the possibility that this could be bad, as in, "you're at risk for infection." Or it could be really bad, as in, "you have a rare form of cancer."

He was quick to mention, "I've never seen a woman die from this." I wonder what my face must've looked like, because he repeated, "You're not going to die. You're not going to lose any organs—except your uterus. You might lose that." But he wouldn't know anything until the lab had a chance to take a look at my blood.

Rob was in meetings all day. I had to leave him a voicemail message with the word "cancer" in it.

* * *

Even though I've been having some pregnancy symptoms for the past few weeks, my hCG levels came back low. Under 100. Much lower than 50,000, the "there-might-be-placenta-growing-in-your-organs" number.

The doctor recommended "a gentle D&C." I didn't tell him how ridiculous that phrase sounds to someone with a uterus.

So in a couple weeks, I'll be in the OR. You know, the last place I wanted to end up when this miscarriage business started over two months ago.

* * *

I'm getting tired of these plot points in the story of my uterus. I thought Conception-Gestation-Birth was a pretty interesting story in its own right—no need for all these extra conflicts and reversals—but apparently, that one's been done before.

"I feel like we're in Act III," I told Rob as we lay side-by-side, trying to stare at each other in the dark. "And we know what happens in Act III."

He didn't miss a beat. "Someone gets married."

I thought about grouching at him for trying to brighten my mood. Couldn't he tell I was busy feeling sorry for myself? How dare he act like this was no big deal?

Except, of course, he's right. It isn't a big deal—which I'm having trouble seeing, because I'm knee-deep in it. This is just a detour on the road to healing and (possibly) expanding our family. Yes, it has some pretty serious emotional fallout. But it's not going to change the genre of our story.


Saturday, June 4, 2011



Dear Westley,

First let me apologize for yelling at you on your half-birthday. I know I apologized twice already, but I still feel awful about it. I was already upset about something else entirely. Also, I tend to be emotionally fragile around cake. In any case, none of that had anything to do with you. I'm so sorry.

I was so glad you liked the cake (especially after all the drama). When you asked me for a "donut-cookie cake" I thought I was screwed. Little did I know that vanilla cake plus a little nutmeg, topped with Mighty O donuts vegan peanut-butter chocolate chip cookie halves would be such a hit.

"Donut Cookie Cake"

"Donut Cookie Cake"

"Donut Cookie Cake"

I think it's beyond awesome that you're three and a half now, and I'm astonished at how quickly you seem to be growing these past couple of weeks. I say this all the time, at every stage, but you look so much like a Little Boy these days, all grown up and ready for preschool in the fall.


This was you three years ago:

6 Months

6 Months

And now, here you are, telling me what letter things start with, snapping photos, singing entire songs, making up stories about your imaginary, built-by-you robot friends. I cannot wait for you to have a real friend—a boy or girl your own age—because I think you'll be a great friend. As soon as you figure out that playing with other people can be cool and fun.

I have to admit to being not so fond of your attitude towards other children. I get that it's hard to share the entire world with other people who you may or may not like the looks of, but that's how life is. And some of those people (even the ones you may not like the looks of) are actually pretty rad. I wish I could help you see this, but I know you have to figure it out on your own.

I am, however, extremely fond of your interest in the world around those other people. I love seeing you figure something out all on your own—a few days ago, you showed me how one of the computer games at the library works. You want to touch and manipulate and experience. Your favorite thing right now is on/off buttons: action, power, and instant gratification, all rolled into one. You're the picture of sweet and dear when it comes to your four grandparents. And you love love. You took a picture of Daddy and me kissing today.

Waking up to find you cuddling with Daddy never fails to melt my heart into a gooey mess, and I cherish the way you cozy up to me, wrapping your arms around me and squishing your little body into mine. Nothing can be bad then.


You're the coolest little guy I've ever met. Let's hang out a bunch, okay?

Love, love, love,


Thursday, June 2, 2011



It was the most beautiful wedding I've ever had the pleasure of attending. Rob knew the groom from work. I didn't know the couple at all. But after hearing their vows to one another and spending a few hours surrounded by their families and friends, I feel as though I've known Ed and Emily—and their love for each other—forever.


There were no programs, very few decorations. There weren't even enough chairs for everyone. Most of the guests stood during the ceremony, which felt exactly right, as though we'd all just happened to gather here at the same day and time.

The couple walked arm in arm, holding flutes of champagne, to a rendition of the White Stripes' "We're Going to Be Friends" with one small lyrics change...
Walk with me, Emily / through the park and by the tree
...which elicited a palpable shared smile among the congregation.

Emily's vows

Ed's vows

Ed and Emily exchanged vows they'd written themselves (the only appropriate choice for two writers, really). In lieu of the more traditional "readings" they played a video game together.

Passage feels more like an art piece than a game, but its "gameness" is crucial to its meaning; Passage presents an entire life in 5 minutes, and the choices the player makes change the outcome, to a point. One of the things a player can choose to do is join up with a partner:
You have the option of joining up with a spouse on your journey (if you missed her, she's in the far north near your original starting point). Once you team up with her, however, you must travel together, and you are not as agile as you were when you were single. Some rewards deep in the maze will no longer be reachable if you're with your spouse. You simply cannot fit through narrow paths when you are walking side-by-side. In fact, you will sometimes find yourself standing right next to a treasure chest, yet unable to open it, and the only thing standing in your way will be your spouse. On the other hand, exploring the world is more enjoyable with a companion, and you'll reap a larger reward from exploration if she's along. When she dies, though, your grief will slow you down considerably. [from the creator's statement, "What I was trying to do with Passage", by Jason Rohrer]
The game ends with death, first of the companion—a mournful "ohhh" broke the silence in the room when pixelated Emily suddenly became a pixelated tombstone—and then, a short time later, of the original player. Points collected, treasure chests opened, mazes explored all make no difference in the end: death comes to everyone. It's a very simple setup with huge implications.

Many tears were wiped away as the bride and groom stood to face each other once more, exchanged rings, and sealed their promise to each other.

You may kiss...

...the bride!

It was a kind of celebration I had fantasized about but thought might not be truly possible. Everyone seemed truly happy to be present. There was no tension in the air, no friction whatsoever. Only joy. And joy and joy and joy.


This was not Ed and Emily's "Special Day." It was one spectacularly beautiful day in a lifetime of special days past and special days yet to come.